I found a colleague's resume in the copy machine

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: December 5, 2011

Dear Annette,

I found a colleague's resume in the copy machine and noticed that he lists some of my responsibilities as his own. I don't want him to get away with this, but I don't think it's common knowledge that he's looking for a new job, so I don't want to report it to our supervisor. What should I do?

Feeling Betrayed in Baton Rouge

Dear Betrayed,

Anyone who has ever been lampooned, made-for-TV-movie'd, made into a voodoo doll, or imitated in any other way has felt the simultaneous flattery and consternation of seeing his or her work or characteristics represented by another. So I suspect you have mixed feelings. On the one hand, your efforts on the job are so fabulous that someone else would like to lay claim to them. This is a marvelous feeling. The attention. The air time.

On the other hand, one wants one's name to appear in the credits of the documentary about oneself, even if the work is unauthorized, doesn't one? I of course have People to track down transgressors. In fact, I have made many shareholders in the corporation of Me very happy as my attorneys have brought home the bacon in the form of large monetary settlements from legal cases involving unauthorized use of my Countenance or other personal assets.

(I love when lawyers use sexy archaic words like "countenance." Reminds me of a barrister named Nigel...but that was ages ago.)

You can ignore your coworker's resume, and bravely assume all will be vindicated in good time. If he tries to bring your expertise to a new job and fails, his actions will speak for themselves. Besides, if you leave the paper on the copier, others may see it and his secret search will be revealed. This may provide some consolation.

Or you can remove the resume from the copy machine and, holding the corner of the paper between the tip of your thumb and the tippy-tip of your forefinger, walk daintily into his office, hand it to him, and say, "I susPECT this belongs to YOU, but I'm not SURE because it looks a lot like something of MINE."

If you deliver your lines with the right mixture of indignation and irony, you could get quite a laugh and still make your point without destroying the relationship. I try never to do anything that would result in my having to remove anyone from my little black book. Too messy.

But irony is not for everyone. If you are an honest, hard-working person who's been seriously hurt, and if this event will weigh heavily on you, then have the Talk. Ask for a few minutes of your colleague's time. Explain in straightforward, nonthreatening language that you are disappointed in him.

Regardless of the outcome, your work does speak for itself if your coworkers and those you report to have integrity and good judgment. As one of my People once told me, "Never work for people who can't recognize a good job when they see one."

Stay fabulous,